Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing one of my favorite things: speaking with tons of lady entrepreneurs. And it’s been wonderful. I’m so happy that we have brand new DREAM JOB Interviews on The Feisty House again! I can’t wait for you to meet all these fascinating women and hear their amazing stories of entrepreneurship.
Getting us back in the swing of things is Merced Saint Boyce, creator of BLAC Minerals Cosmetics, a mineralized makeup brand specifically designed for women of color that recently made it’s debut in WholeFoods! What a huge accomplishment! I’m so grateful that she is sharing her story with all of us on The Feisty House.
Dream Job Interview // Merced Saint Boyce
of BLAC Minerals Cosmetics
Merced Saint Boyce // Owner/Creator // Year Launched: 2008
How did you get started in cosmetics? How did you know this is what you wanted to do?
I started BLAC Mineral Cosmetics out of a personal need. At the time of its inception, mineral makeup was the biggest thing to hit the market, and Bare Minerals in particular was leading the pack. What [Bare Minerals] lacked were colors for darker-toned women. I remember going into their store on 34th Street [in Manhattan] and having the beauty associate use their darkest powder on me (mind you I don’t consider myself to be that deep). [I thought to myself], “Hmmm, okay. This may work.” Then [I went] outside and [looked] in a mirror and [was] mortified because my face look like an ashy grey mess! Yikes! I knew then that this was an issue and that if I could create an all-natural makeup that catered to women of all shades of brown, it would be a winner. I began mixing and creating shades and testing them until I had a viable product.
What were you doing before you launched BLAC Minerals?
Prior to BLAC Minerals, I was an assistant designer for a large children’s wear company. I’ve always been a creative person. I graduated with a fashion design degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. In addition, I had dreams of owning my own business. In the beginning I thought it would be designing and making children’s wear, as that was my specialization in college. I knew deep down that my talents could lead me to doing some kind of business for myself.
How did you make the transition to entrepreneur?
Well, I was doing BLAC Minerals on the side [while] still working full-time, and then I got pregnant. I wrestled with the decision of going back to work. With my situation, it actually made sense to stay home and save on childcare. So I discussed it with my husband, and we decided it would be best to not return. I then set in my mind that I needed to invest my all into [BLAC Minerals]. Within a year-and-a-half of that decision, we made it into our first WholeFoods Market location.
How did you fund your business in the beginning? How long was it until you you started seeing a profit?
In the beginning, the business was funded from my job salary and a credit card. Now all the sales we make go right back into the business and expanding the product line. Right now the company breaks even, but with our partnership with WholeFoods Market, we expect to see a great profit this year.
What do you enjoy the most about owning your own business?
I love the freedom and that the possibilities are endless. I love that I can literally create anything I want for the brand and put it out there and see how people respond.
What do you enjoy the least about owning your own business?
Sometimes the uncertainly can became a distraction. [I’ve] been used to not receiving regular paychecks for a while now, but sometimes the thought comes up, “Is this the right path?” or “Would it be easier with a job?”
Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?
Well around the time of the disastrous economic depression this country experienced, no one was buying, and no was hiring. It was a really hard time, not just for me, but for America. It took a while to recover, and [we’ve] remained focus on the business.
How have you gotten the word out about BLAC Minerals? How have you established your social media presence?
BLAC Minerals has grown [thanks] to old-fashioned word-of-mouth. I have found that the key is [to] create a really great product [so that] your customers will want to shout [about] it from the rooftops.
I just recently launched BLAC Beauty TV on YouTube. I was hesitant to do this because I kept comparing myself to other well-known [and] more experienced YouTubers, and the fact that I wasn’t completely comfortable in front of the camera, but I realized that if [was just] myself and produced helpful content, it [would] come across to the viewer. In the end, it’s a no-brainer to have videos showing our products and demonstrating how I use them. It helps me connect with my market.
I have plans to do more with Instagram but to be honest between answering emails, formulating products, fulfilling orders all while taking care of two daughters under two…I just don’t have the time to do full on glam makeup and take selfies everyday (lol).
What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day involves me waking up every morning and tending to my daughters, i.e. breakfast, changing diapers; you know the unglamorous part of being a business owner 🙂 Then it’s on to checking my emails, answering and responding. Next it’s fulfilling the orders for the day. Next is doing anything from updating my website (I do my own graphics and design), posting to social media accounts, working on new products, and/or recording beauty videos. My days usually zoom by and next thing I know, it’s time to cook dinner and wind down for the day.
How do you use creativity in your business? When are you most creative?
The cosmetics business is a lot of fun for me. I study other brands and it gets me thinking about how to create products unique to my customer. I am constantly watching YouTube videos, or scouring the aisles of Sephora. I love to create and play, and making beauty products is the perfect avenue for this.
What’s been the most amazing moment for BLAC Minerals so far?
The most amazing moment has got to be doing my first in-store demo in our WholeFoods location. I wasn’t even nervous. I told myself, “ Girl, you know what you’re doing. You are this brand,” and I completely surprised myself. Naturally I am a little bit of an introvert, so talking to random people isn’t my strong point, [but] I was able to step out of my comfort zone, and I liked it. When I started to talk to people and tell [them] about the company, the overall reception was so great.
I would just like to add that [what] I love about BLAC Minerals Cosmetics overall is that I really feel like I’m making a difference in the beauty industry. You know, as women of color or shades of brown, finding products that truly complement our skin tone is like a Where’s Waldo search-and-seek mission. Just recently I was in a local Ulta beauty store, and as I was looking around I thought to myself, “ My goodness! I can’t use half this stuff, and I’m not even that dark!” I love when my customers leave product reviews saying how truly satisfied they are. [That’s] what keeps me motivated: knowing that products like mine are so necessary in the marketplace.
What advice do you have for women who want to own their own cosmetics line?
First and most important, be unique and be specialized. There are so many cosmetics lines, and when you’re starting out small, you don’t have the large budgets or capital as some of these major multi-million dollar brands. So how do you compete? Compete on your uniqueness. Remember that you can’t be everything to everybody. Identify your target market and zone in like a laser beam and work on providing everything that [your target customers] may want or need.